Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland Essay

1116 words - 5 pages

Tomatoland is a book written by Barry Estabrook, an investigative food journalist. Throughout the pages of Tomatoland, Estabrook explores the path of tomatoes, from the seed in South America to the hands of migrant workers in the fields of Florida. Through his exploration he discovers several issues that exist within the fresh tomato industry in Florida. Two of the major issues that he discovers include the use of highly toxic chemicals that cause severe damage to the health of humans and the environment, and the exploitation of migrant workers. Estabrook directly blames the continuation of such issues on those who support the tomato industry, “it’s a world we’ve all made, and one we can fix”; this includes consumers, crew bosses, the government and the corporate farm owners, like the executives and those who work in the business side of farming. Although there are many who are at fault, Estabrook directs his blame more towards the government and the farms corporate owners. Estabrook’s assessment of blame is substantial because the government and owners of the tomato corporations are the ones who have the strongest power towards regulations and production.
The use of dangerous and also deadly chemicals by Florida’s tomato industry is due to the insufficient regulations made by the Department of Agriculture. Florida’s soil is pure sand, making it impossible to grow tomatoes. The plant also faces completion with other plants as well as being attacked by diseases and insects. The only reason then that Florida’s farmers grow is because it’s summer in Florida, while the rest of the United States is experiencing winter. Greed, the want for larger profit, is the reason why the fresh market tomato industry is located in Florida. The desire for larger profits is sustained through the use of hazardous chemicals and irrigation and other forms of farming to protect and make Florida’s soil capable of sustaining a growing tomato. Estabrook names several of the chemicals that are used in the tomato fields. Two of those chemicals are methyl bromide and methyl iodine. Both of these chemicals are linked to cancer, destruction of the ozone layer and reproductive issues for women. The use of such chemicals affects the health of its workers who are coming in direct contact, and it also affects those who live in the surrounding areas of the tomato fields. However, the tomato industry puts their precious tomato industry before the health of their consumers and environment. Estabrook views the careless amounts of pesticides used in Florida’s tomato fields to be the fault of its agricultural department for not issuing stronger regulations to protect its community. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made countless of attempts to prevent the usage of toxic chemicals but they are stopped either by the farmers themselves who argue that without the usage of methyl iodine their industry would be nonexistent or the state of Florida itself , who are...

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